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Senior centre awaits word from the feds on expansion plan

Funding from both province and feds unlikely: MPP

By Mike Pearson, News staff

The Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre’s advisory board is still awaiting a response from the federal government to secure funding for a $1.5 million expansion of the city-owned facility. But Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson said he will ask the city to cover any shortfall if the expansion plan gets the green light from the Conservative government.

“I’m going to make sure the city steps up if there’s a shortfall,” Ferguson announced during the centre’s annual general meeting last week.

Ferguson said he expects the federal government to approve the CIIF application. The expansion was ranked as the city’s number one priority among all projects seeking CIIF money.

“This thing will happen, period,” Ferguson said.

The centre’s advisory board is asking for $500,000 from the federal government’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Program, as well as $500,000 from the provincial government. The board has $400,000 in its special projects fund and is conducting a fundraising campaign to collect additional revenue.

In an interview, Liberal MPP and Minister of Agriculture Ted McMeekin said the senior centre expansion is one of three infrastructure projects he has discussed with the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, Bob Chiarelli.

“Our area, I suspect, will get one project. The struggle is, which one,” McMeekin said.

But the provincial government is unlikely to grant funding for the project if the plan is approved for federal funding through the CIIF program, McMeekin said.

“If that (CIIF funding) comes through, that wouldn’t be the one we would fund, that would be one of the other two,” said McMeekin.

Funding for the federal government’s CIIF program in Ontario is allocated by FedDev Ontario.

A spokesperson for FedDev Ontario told Hamilton Community News last week officials are currently assessing applications that were submitted by the deadline of August 24. Approved funding recipients will be notified and individual approved projects will be announced in Ontario in the coming weeks.

Terms of the ASAC expansion were finalized during the centre’s annual general meeting on Oct.  24.

Al Gordon, chair of the centre’s advisory board, remains cautiously optimistic the expansion plan will proceed in time to meet a March 31, 2014 deadline. Projects granted CIIF funding must meet that timeline for completion.

“We have a notion that city funding is really unlikely in the near future,” said Gordon.

The advisory board has submitted a business case for the expansion to the provincial Liberals and continues to wait for a response from the federal government, Gordon said.

The proposed expansion plan would increase activity space at the Alberton Road facility by nearly 6,000 square feet.

Senior centre staff hope to expand health and fitness programs which have spurred the growth of the city-owned seniors centre. With  more than 1,000 members, the centre received 62,000 visitors last year,  up from 49,000 in 2009. Membership is open to anyone over the age of 55.

A concept expansion plan from architect Bill Curran has already been approved by the centre’s membership. The proposed expansion would include a new lobby, lounge and library area on the west side of the building, plus a 2,262 square-foot garden courtyard.

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